Sunday, August 28, 2011

Governor’s Energy Office and CSU to Collaborate on Energy Efficiency

Who said government can't be effective and reduce spending? The Governor's Energy Office (GEO) and Colorado State University (CSU) are joining forces to help reduce the amount of energy, water, paper, and petroleum use in government buildings across the State of Colorado. I think that we should all be quite ecstatic that our state government is going to save some money and from the looks of this initiative it's going to be a lot of money. If you remember energy efficiency initiatives have the quickest return on investment (ROI). Another interesting offhand comment in the Colorado Energy News article is this little nugget from TJ Deora, director of the GEO:

"Colorado is already positioned to be the first state reporting it's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from statewide operations..."

How cool is that? Colorado will not only save taxpayers money with energy efficiency initiatives, but may also one day report its GHG emissions. I look forward to the progress reports from the GEO and CSU.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Solar-powered Homes Remain a Distant Dream for Many in the U.S.

Although the title of this article sounds a bit doom and gloom it really isn't. Capital today is flowing towards utility-scale renewable energy projects. This is a good thing. I'd rather have more renewable fuels in my utility's portfolio than fossil fuels. However, as the article states there are other options besides the traditional owner-financed solar photovoltaic (PV) array on a residential rooftop. The market for leasing solar panels is growing fast. This is an attractive option for those homeowners who can't afford the upfront capital costs for PV modules, inverter, and the labor to install it. However, for those that like to buy rather than lease, the cost of PV is dropping each year. PV will be competitive with traditional fossil fuels soon.

The last thing I'd like to mention, which always seems to get overlooked in renewable energy discussions and articles is something less sexy, but is the best bang for your buck - energy efficiency. Making a residential or commercial building use the least amount of energy possible is where the smart money is. A quicker return on investment (ROI) can be realized by completing energy efficiency projects such as caulking, insulation, low-flow shower heads, Energy Star appliances, efficient HVAC systems, and the cheapest of measures - behavioral change (turning off lights when leaving the room or taking shorter showers). Once the building is enhanced to use the least amount of energy possible, there is a really good chance that you won't need as many solar PV modules on your roof and therefore won't need to finance as much. Energy efficiency is low-hanging fruit.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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